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America's New War: FBI News Conference in Chicago

Aired September 20, 2001 - 14:44   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
DARYN KAGAN, CNN ANCHOR: We want to get to Chicago, an update now with the FBI.

(JOINED IN PROGRESS)

KATHLEEN MCCHESNEY, FBI: The arrest occurred at Almarab's (ph) place of employment, 6800 West 87th Street in Burbank. Almarab was wanted by the Boston, Massachusetts, police department on a failure to comply with probation warrant issued in March of this year. An individual by the name of Nebil Amarab is also listed on the FBI's watch list, compiled last week following the terrorist attacks in New York and Washington. This investigation is continuing in an attempt to verify Almarab's identity and nationality.

Almarab is currently being held by the FBI in Chicago. Subsequent to his arrest, his vehicle and resident were searched by FBI agents. He will eventually be turned over to local INS authorities to pursue removal proceedings.

Also arrested last night was Walid A. Batuni (ph), the owner of the Seven Day liquor store in Burbank. Batuni was taken into custody by the Burbank Police Department for local firearms violations.

Further questions regarding the probation violation should be directed to the Boston Police Department at 617-343-4480. Details regarding the arrest of Batuni may be directed to the Burbank Police Department at 708-924-7300.

I would like to thank all the participating members of the Chicago terrorism task force, the INS and the Burbank, Hickory Hills and Justice, Illinois, police departments for assistance in this investigation. I would like to help you with some questions if I can.

QUESTION: What can you tell us about why or how he found himself on the terrorism watch list?

MCCHESNEY: The reason that this individual -- the name that matches this individual who was arrested is on the watch list is not something I can discuss.

QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE)

QUESTION: You're trying to determine whether the Almarab you have in custody is the Almarab on the watch list? MCCHESNEY: That's correct.

QUESTION: You don't know that yet.

MCCHESNEY: No, we're conducting our investigation. We've been working on it since late last night when he was arrested, and we still have a lot of work to do.

QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE) provided other names, other identities?

MCCHESNEY: I can't tell you what he said.

QUESTION: How and when did you realize he was in Burbank and Hickory Hills?

MCCHESNEY: We determined that he was in the Burbank-Justice- Hickory Hills area last night about 11 p.m.

QUESTION: And went out immediately?

MCCHESNEY: Oh, we went out immediately, yes.

QUESTION: How did you found out? Did it come from the public, from law enforcement sources, in general terms?

MCCHESNEY: It was as a result of our investigation which is, as many of you know, ongoing throughout the country as we speak.

QUESTION: Is he cooperative?

QUESTION: Where is the residence that you searched? Is that in Hickory Hills?

MCCHESNEY: Yes it is.

QUESTION: What's the address?

MCCHESNEY: I don't have the address.

QUESTION: Was that his place?

MCCHESNEY: That was a place he was residing. I don't know if he owns it.

QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE)

MCCHESNEY: I don't know. I don't know that.

QUESTION: Is he cooperating at this point, (OFF-MIKE) information about the World Trade Center Towers?

MCCHESNEY: I cannot tell you the results of our investigation or anything he might have said.

QUESTION: Can you tell us when he came into the country, and when he went out of status? MCCHESNEY: No, I can't tell you -- I can't tell you when he came in or when he came out. I would refer you to Mr. Perryman in that regard.

QUESTION: Have you been able to establish a link between the man who's in custody and the (OFF-MIKE)?

MCCHESNEY: That is a question that refers to parts of the investigation that are ongoing.

MCCHESNEY: So I can't tell you whether he's related to any other subjects in any other part of this country or any other country right now.

QUESTION: Can you say anything about the investigation of the trading in the financial markets and the possible terrorist activity there?

MCCHESNEY: No. I can't say anything about that.

QUESTION: There have been reports linking the individual that you may have in custody here to two of the hijackers, Al-Ghamdi (ph) and Al-Suqami, both of whom were allegedly on planes that left Boston and crashed into the towers. Can you confirm those reports? What's the basis of those reports linking the hijackers?

MCCHESNEY: No. I can't confirm any reports for you. I'm sorry

QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE)

MCCHESNEY: Well, my understanding is that he was residing in Hickory Hills.

QUESTION: How long has he been here, do you know?

MCCHESNEY: I don't know exactly how long he's been here. And I don't know if Mr. Perryman knows.

QUESTION: Approximately?

BRIAN PERRYMAN, INS REGIONAL DIRECTOR: I don't have that information for sure yet, so I wouldn't want to speculate.

QUESTION: Mr. Perryman, does he have a (OFF-MIKE)

PERRYMAN: I don't know. What the SAC here has told you, is what we know so far.

QUESTION: Can you tell us when he entered the country and when he went out of status?

PERRYMAN: As I said, we're currently working with the FBI, as we have been throughout this investigation, as part of the joint terrorism task force, and exploring that information so that we know exactly who this person is.

QUESTION: Has he been arrested or has he been detained?

MCCHESNEY: No. He was arrested pursuant to a warrant from the state of Massachusetts. And when it's sorted out with the state of Massachusetts, relative to any extradition that might ensue, he will also be turned to INS authorities here in Chicago, and they will pursue removal proceedings.

QUESTION: Has Mr. Almarab been detained? Is Mr. Batuni on a terrorism watch list?

MCCHESNEY: As I indicated, that's the purpose of our investigation.

QUESTION: (inaudible) on the terrorism watch list, believed to have done? What kind of activities did the person on the watch list (OFF-MIKE)

MCCHESNEY: I can't speak to that. I'm sorry.

KAGAN: We have been listening in on an FBI news conference coming to us from Chicago. These officials giving us the last information on two individuals that have been arrested in the Chicago area in connection with the terrorism task force. One Nabil Al- Marabh. He in the custody of the FBI in Chicago. Also Walib A. Batoni, he a liquor store owner in the Burbank area, just outside of Chicago. He was arrested on a weapon's violation.

Now the work for the FBI and the police simple identification as you have heard in the case of some the hijackers. They believe they used stolen or misleading identification, so the job right now to make sure these men are who they say they are. From then, they will pursue other charges.

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